Arx Atrata plays atmospheric black metal inspired by a range of bands - Coldworld, Winterfylleth, Lustre, Agalloch, etc. I wanted to take the beauty of the slower and more synth-led atmospheric black metal bands and pair that with some influences from the more aggressive and faster acts.
Currently I write and record all the instruments myself, but one day I might assemble a live line-up if possible.
2.In October you have a new album coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
I don't think that it does differ from past releases - or at least, certainly not deliberately. The songs are entirely new, of course! I always try to find new ways to express the moods and atmospheres that are important. But I want each album to be part of a cohesive body of work, so there are no big changes. I always listen to the previous songs while writing new ones, and it helps me keep everything coherent.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you have explored over the years with your music?
The lyrical themes tend to be around fairly abstract concepts - the end of civilizations, the nature of mortality, the relationship between time and place, and so on. A couple of tracks tell a bit more of a story but they're the exception.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Arx Atrata'?
It is simply Latin for "blackened citadel". There is no deeper meaning to it, apart from just to create an image in the mind.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented
on the new album cover?
The artwork was produced by Namurian Visions for this album, and is an abstract piece that visually captures the same moods I try and capture with music - open landscapes, distant ruins, the sense of something
unsettling and otherworldly. The artist talked about "the concept of hallowed, ancient spaces as a bridge between worlds" and that sums it up. When you see a derelict castle or a centuries-old path across hills there is a whole history of people and events tied to that location. Many of Arx Atrata's songs relate to those themes.
6.With this project you record everything by yourself but also have experience playing with a full band, how would you compare the two?
It is much as you might expect; with a band you have to have lots of discussions and reach lots of compromises, but as a solo artist you just do what you feel is right. A band gives more opportunity to get on stage and share music with people directly but it is a lot of work to get to that point! I am glad to have both experiences.
7.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
I have received several offers over the years, most of them being very bad. The sad truth is that with fewer people paying for music these days, record labels have less money to invest in musicians. So I get offers like, "We'll print 500 CDs, and we pay you nothing, but you get 100 CDs to sell". Nobody should be accepting deals like that.
Maybe in future a better offer will come along, but as a solo artist it's hard to promote the music via live shows so bigger labels will be cautious to invest, and I fully understand that. So I'm open to offers but not holding my breath.
8.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of atmospheric black metal?
The first album Oblivion was received far more positively than I could have imagined, and the follow-up Spiritus In Terra got equally good comments, so it's been very humbling. I've had musicians whom I know and respect contact me about my work, which inspires me to continue.
9.What is going on with 'Twilight's Embrace' these days?
We're writing a second album. That has taken longer than I would have liked, mostly due to my commitments with Arx Atrata and also my role as a guitarist in Fjords (https://www.facebook.com/fjordsofficial/), who also have an album coming in November. I'm hoping Twilight's Embrace will be able to get back on the road next year and take our melodic doom-death back to the people.
10.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the
I don't expect much to change, although I'd be interested in creating some dark ambient works, if time allows. The three main acts take precedence however!
11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Like many metal fans I grew up with Iron Maiden, but later on I discovered the Peaceville Three (Paradise Lost, Anathema, My Dying Bride) and really got into that kind of doom metal. It was years before I really learned to appreciate black metal but the UK bands that emerged over the last 10 years really inspired me - Wodensthrone, Winterfylleth, Fen, Old Corpse Road. Those, coupled with a lot of the explicitly atmospheric acts with heavy synths and often having a blackened doom aesthetic, gave me a good selection of influences to draw upon.
In recent years bands like The Great Old Ones and Der Weg Einer Freiheit have set new standards for me in how black metal can be fast and aggressive without compromising on complex melody and harmony, so I have their records on constant rotation.
Other notable mentions include the (relatively) recent releases by Fellwarden, Sojourner, and Pillorian. I've not found much time for records from this year yet, but that will change once this release is done!
12.What are some of your non musical interests?
I enjoy spending time in the countryside and walking in the Peak District area near my home is a great way to relax and get inspiration. When at home, I'm a video game developer by trade so when I'm not working on music I might be working on or playing video games, RPGs and strategy games especially.
13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Nothing more except to say thank you for your interest in my work, and I hope you enjoy The Path Untravelled on October 11th.